Ever wondered what it would be like to live life without plastic? To go about your day and never encounter a fumble of filth lying on the street? Well… firstly it would be incredibly impractical. The reason plastic is found everywhere and inevitably ends up on the streets is because it’s so damn useful. However, like what most people should try to achieve in their lives, there has to be a balance.
So why is Plastic bad for your mental health?
Plastic has become an indulgence (kind of like eating fast-food), and as a consequence, our societal well-being is taking a hit. Would you believe me if I told you the consequences are more critical than you expected though? That the toll of actual damage on our lives is actually boundlessly more dangerous than we all currently think? We all know that plastic doesn’t deteriorate quickly in nature, and we know that the accumulation of plastic litter is speeding up quicker than we can handle. But disregarding the obvious argument that plastic physically kills nature, there’s also the consequence of mental deterioration across years of littering. Not only is it physically in the way, but it’s also burdensome to see, feel, smell and prevent children from associating with litter.
As stated in the book: Unplugged (2017), there is a huge detrimental crisis going around the world. One that is somewhat blind to the naked eye in everyday life, but is yet one of the most crucial aspects of life as we know it. Plastic. It seems so normal to use, but this material first produced 200 years ago is taking over. The major focus is what this impact has on the oceans, parks, and wildlife around us. But in recent studies it has shown that people are slowly losing their humanity, not due to unethical standards or the loss of a moral compass, but because we are becoming walking zombies filled in a plastic-rich environment. As shown in a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, which found that the average person spends over 90% of their day inside, while the average child is only outside for about 30 minutes a day. We’re literally becoming anti-nature in our way of life, combine this with plastic that’s literally destroying nature… and we could consider ourselves to be exactly like robots. This, in turn, has indeed caused many new biological and psychological issues in today’s society, many of which remain unexplained. Now with our perfectly ‘connected’ lives, we seek immersion in technology before nature. Being alone in pure nature for only 10 minutes a day has proven to have enough de-stressing properties essential to the working adult. But we’re getting to the point of realization that a walk in the park is really worth nothing if you’re constantly tripping over plastic.
This ties into another theoretical model of mental exhaustion, introduced by Daniel Kahneman in his book: Thinking Fast & Slow. In the past 15 years of modern psychology research, it was found that there is such a thing as mental capacity. Consider this, have you ever had to operate two things at once and found yourself at a loss? Like when you’re trying to park your car, and the radio is just on WAY too loud to concentrate properly? So you have to turn it down to concentrate on the road. Well, logically speaking the two operations have nothing to do with one another, but in the brain, an overloaded system goes off disallowing you from focusing. The same goes for mental exhaustion tied with stress. Like the music in the car playing when you’re trying to park, stress can stick to the inside of your mind like glue and actually prevent you from focusing 100%. Plastic can do the same thing… it introduces stress symptoms into your mind that causes the average person to behave differently. Mix this with traffic, lights, noise and a smartphone AND boom… you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for mental exhaustion.
When u go outside, for a jog or walking your dogs, try and pick up plastic you see lying on the street. There’s so much of it, it’s should barely be an actual challenge. However, the tough part is the mental association of picking up litter: time, embarrassment, fitness routine, neglect etc. (take your pick). And i know what you’re thinking, ‘but I don’t wanna go outside and pick up litter like a good little boy-scout or plastic-police’. Don’t worry about it, there’s a solution to that, it’s called group enactment. Don’t go for a jog carrying the burden that you have to clean as much plastic as possible. A little is enough. When you go outside for a jog, make it a habit of picking up just one piece of plastic. Pick the one that troubles you the most. That gets you thinking, ‘ugh, who leaves THIS just lying here?’ Just throw that piece away and ignore the rest (for now). Done, now the path is a little cleaner than the last time you left it. If EVERYONE would just throw one EXTRA piece away. Wow what a cleaner world we could live in… And the funny thing is, if you begin to throw one piece of plastic a day, you’ll begin to see exactly how big of a problem littering has become… and will become.
If the image posted above is causing you anxiety, Surfers Against Sewage, a non-profit organization looking to clean up the beaches of the world have some tips to take action and join the resistance to a ‘wasteland’ planet. There are a few small mental habits you can adopt if you’re someone who is strong enough to face the plastic challenge:
- Use a refillable bottle. Clubsportive is shortly introducing reusable bottles that members can use for their source of water. Instead of bringing a new plastic bottle to each workout session, having a refillable bottle actually helps a lot in the fight against a plastic world.
- Use a reusable coffee cup. Most, if not all, restaurants that serve takeaway coffee will accept the use of a reusable coffee cup. It cuts costs, keeps coffee warm and spill-proof and most importantly it’s the right step to saving the planet.
- Take a reusable bag everywhere you go. Avoid buying a plastic bag every time you need to get something from the supermarket. Having a flexible and reusable bag will stop kgs of plastic litter.
- Don’t use straws. The maximum time spent using a straw is approximately 20 minutes. But once they end up on the street, they will exist for hundreds of years more.
- If you go out for lunch-breaks or order food. Simply take your own cutlery to work. It doesn’t take any space and realistically it’s very easy to do. Make a habit of having clean cutlery wherever you go, it’s actually handier than you’d think.
We all understand that plastic litter is bad. Yet the average person does nothing about it but stick to themselves. Cleaning plastic should be a call to arms, that those who understand the importance of fitness should lead. It’s not about not littering, it’s about cleaning up after those who do. It doesn’t matter if they understand the real damages or not, now you do. And it’s up to you to try and make a small difference. It may seem like it’s worth absolutely nothing at first, but trust the golden rule for fitness: consistency is key, however small.